The Library’s strategic directions highlight its aim to make the collections more accessible to Australians, wherever they are. The Library will over the next several years transition its overseas collecting program from print to digital form wherever possible, enabling faster and easier access for users. The overwhelming preference of users for digital access and the availability of key resources in digital form enable the Library to make this move and it will be a key principle of future overseas and Asian collecting.  For collecting areas where publishing is not yet in digital form, such as some countries of Asia and the Pacific, print acquisitions will continue.

The background to this move is the great change evident in the print and online publishing world. The web offers a huge diversity of freely available information sources. The early printed collections of the world’s great libraries have been digitised and many are freely accessible in open access archives. At the same time, commercial and academic publishing is transitioning to a largely digital environment with the advent of e-book publishing and the consolidation of e-journal publishing. Collections such as these are far more accessible to the Library’s users than its print holdings. The Library will seek flexible license conditions for its registered users that permit access to digital resources both on- and off-site.

Cost is a factor when building the Library’s collections, regardless of format or subject. Academic publishing continues to increase in quantity and price. Publisher and vendor purchasing models for e-journal and e-book packages are often highly priced with controlled digital rights regimes. These publishing and purchasing models place pressure on the Library’s collection budgets. Future collecting will take into account the purchase cost of acquisitions and the staff resources required to manage the collections.

The greatest strengths of the Library’s collections are, broadly, the social sciences, history, politics and society, with a particular emphasis on these topics in the countries of Asia and the Pacific.  These subject areas will continue to define collecting in the future and are described further in section 6 below. The general commitment to the Library’s Asian and Pacific collecting will not diminish, but other overseas collecting will be more selective in future. There are a number of reasons for this. These include the wide availability of information online, the costs of maintaining an overseas acquisitions program and the opportunity to use collaborative networks to build collections.